TGB holds discussion with Jump River Electric regarding high fees affecting tribal members
By Joe Morey News Editor
Members of the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) met with the director of Jump River Electric, James Anderson, to discuss issues brought up by tribal members who claim the utility company is charging them unaffordable disconnect/reconnect fees and security deposits to reconnect power based on their credit reports. Also in attendance at the meeting was Jump River billing clerk, Sebastian Holmstead.
Glenda Barber, LCO TGB member, stated some of the deposits are as high as $500 and the tribal members simply can’t afford to pay that on top of paying their past due bills and reconnect fees.
TGB member Tweed Shuman said other electric companies serving the tribal membership don’t require these large security deposits. He said there was much discussion with Anderson on lowering or waving those deposits for tribal members. He indicated there was further discussion on Jump River moving to a prepaid metered system.
“We are also talking about developing a tribal community rate,” Shuman said.
Barber stated Jump River wants to serve our casino and other businesses and with that, they could give us incentives, like a tribal community rate.
Currently Xcel serves electricity to the casino, but Barber said if the tribe wanted Xcel to serve any other future development that is planned to occur at the corner of Hwy K and B, they would need to already have the infrastructure there that serves the casino, or they wouldn’t be able too. This would be the case if the tribe allowed Jump River to provide electricity to the casino.
Shuman noted the TGB is looking in depth at creating our own tribal electric utility company by owning the lines through the reservation and connecting our hydro-electric dam with a solar field of solar panels, to create our own electricity.
“We could possibly sell our excess electricity back to Jump River or Dairyland Electric Cooperative,” Shuman said. He noted that Jump River currently owes the tribe for the easements that their power lines are located through the reservation. He said we’d possibly purchase those lines from them.
Shuman stated the ownership of our own electric utility company is a five-year plan.
“We’re currently in negotiations with Jump River on easements and trespass issues,” Shuman said.
Anderson told the TGB he would bring the current requests on tribal member billing issues back to the Jump River Board of Directors to consider.